galaxy image BitWorks Music sounds for your world

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speed Bloggin'

I was going to wait until I had time to do a "proper" blog entry, but I saw this article about what Apple is embedding in all the new, improved, DRM-free music they are selling. They are putting your full user name and account email address in the tags (where the extra info like song titles etc. are kept) of the audio files. I'm not sure what to think of this. It's a pretty clever way to enforce copyright actually. It is relatively simple to write a program that will, for example, surf the web for any files with an iTunes tag, grab the email address, and pass it on to every spammer in Spamarctica. As you know, Spamarctica is the (virtual) nation from which all spam originates. Or I may have just made that up.

Things have been busy as usual here in BitLand. I am putting together our next release from National Holographic, "The Sands of Time", another great selection in our multimedia album download series. This NH release features Tomas Phillips in addition to Ted Johnson and Jason King, so it has a different feel to it, with shorter pieces. We will release TSoT in a couple of weeks, so hold your breath until then..

Photon has sent his first album to be mastered! He has scored ambient legend Steve Roach to do the mastering of this release. Photon, whose band name is Unit Vector, has been a strong supporter of our efforts here, and I'm really looking forward to his work. I have heard most of the album in "primal" form, and it sounds like we are in for a treat!

More fun with iNews.. HERE we have an article about a robot that dances to iPod tunes. The geek buzzwords for today: chaotic itinerancy:

Unlike older Miuros, which hit stores last August, the new prototype is fitted with software based on what scientists call chaotic itinerancy, a mathematical pattern similar to the movements of a bee circling from flower to flower as it collects nectar.

If that's not exciting enough for you, and you haven't heard about the latest craze sweeping the nation(?), check out all the fuss about the iGasm. Disclaimer: no, I don't have one of these, but it sounds pretty iCool.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


It's official! Computer-based recording sucks! This weekend was our long-awaited jam extravaganza. BKP, John O., and I spent the weekend playing, recording, and hopefully not annoying the neighbors too much. I think we discovered a few things about how not to record, so I will pass my list along to you, dear readers (note: if you're not a geek, you might want to skip this part):

  • Grounding! Grounding! It's all about the grounding! Both my and John's recording interfaces picked up a fair amount of electronic noise of the interference kind. Sometimes it was only annoying; other times, impossible! This really brings up the next point.
  • Laptops suck for recording! Period. Biggest issue? Grounding. (You knew that already.) Secondly, the peripherals architecture on laptops, such as access to disk drives and digital audio interfaces, isn't always up to the same spec as standard desktop workstations. I previously have had issues with my laptop's Firewire port not being fast enough to maintain a connection with my M-Audio FW-410 interface. I had to use a PCMCIA Firewire card to get enough bandwidth. I also had a few times where my external audio disk did not keep up with the audio data rate. Which brings us to..
  • You need a dedicated recording machine, or at least a separate (e.g. dual boot) operating system tuned for recording and NOTHING ELSE. Many of those cool programs you have installed start these background processes that clog your PC's arteries. Ever notice why your machine doesn't run as fast as it used to? It's all that crapware you have installed! If you haven't guessed by now, neither of us have a dedicated recording system. So basically, we paid with hours of time getting the damn things to record.
  • Too many points of failure. Every connection in the system has its potential for bugs. A "closed" recording system is the way to go if you value sanity.
  • With all of the above drawbacks, you might as well just buy a decent desktop with one of those micro-cases for portability, and even then, if you aren't an aspiring geek, my current opinion is that it's a major time suck any way you look at it.

But enough about the troubles! We rocked! I will have one of the improvs up for listening within a month. Yeah, I know, but I am also working on some things for future listening that are extremely exciting.

Speaking of excitement, I just recently reconnected with an old bandmate from Chicago, where I did a 1-gig performance with a band under the name "Sunz of Nunz" (really an alter-ego for the band "Pootly Nautch" under which the band recorded previously). SoN was the brainchild of front man Lew Brickhate, possibly the most hilarious lyricist I have ever heard.

Upcoming releases: I am working on another release from National Holographic, coming in mid-June.

For those of you who of the non-geek persuasion, my apologies for the obscene geek content of this post.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Johnson-Hendrix releases "Lights in the Sky"

Today we release another album from Ted Johnson and Joe Hendrix--"Lights in the Sky", recorded in 2004 on Studio 713 music. Here we have another great example of space electronica, 2 songs, 57 minutes of music. I think it's safe to say that with track lengths over 20 minutes we won't be seeing this on American Top 40 anytime soon. From the BitWorks homepage, click on Johnson Hendrix in the catalog to play samples of the album.

Hey, did you realize you probably missed Robert Fripp's birthday on May 16th? It's not too late though to wish the young man another great year. He has a MySpace where you can leave him a birthday hello, if you're into that sort of thing. Or you could sign the DGM Live guestbook.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Annuals--Live! With Lingerie!

I made it to a free(!) show Wednesday night, an in-store performance at our local mall, Annuals (home page, MySpace), our latest sensation out of Raleigh! This was also a benefit for WKNC. Sensational they were. When 6 people agree on something, they are a force to be reckoned with. When they are armed with an arsenal of instruments, it has the power to break through your cynical shell and give you a surprise gift.

Adam Baker wrote and arranged all songs on their debut full-length CD, "Be He Me", which the group is currently touring to promote. Here is a site with Adam's description of some of the songs. While the lyrics are often intense and poetic, to me this sounds like a celebration. It reminds me a bit of XTC (but with twice the musicians and half the age). One thing that stood out from the show, aside from the lovely lingerie I was standing next to (a fringe benefit of in-store performance), was the powerhouse percussion section. During one tune, Adam joined drum/perc duo Nick and Zack on thundering drum tribal rhythm. Killer. You could pretty much count bass player Mike Robinson as part of the rhythm section--he was jumping with the beat most of the time. Anna held down center stage with her keys of fury and towering stage presence, and Kenny showed his guitar shredding talents stage right.

Now a word from an old, grizzled, non-veteran of the music industry to these future legends: be careful with the attention that is coming your way, because you are definitely going to have a lot of that. One of the biggest challenges, in addition to not getting sick of each other, is to keep the spaciousness of the sound. There is a lot going on in a sextet and it's easy to step on each other. And oh yeah, keep it weird and you can't go wrong. I read one reviewer who took issue with the abundant use of samples and odd sounds on many of the songs. As keyboardist Anna said after the show, "Yeah, we like the weird noises." I'd say it adds some great spice.

I look forward to the next Annuals release, which I understand is well on its way.

On the home front, next weekend will be my first ever "recording weekend" in the NC mountains. Fun awaits!

Next week we will also feature another album release from Johnson-Hendrix.

Friday, May 04, 2007

National Holographic "In the Near Infrared" Release!

Today we release the 2006 album from National Holographic, "In the Near Infrared" in lossless FLAC and high bitrate MP3 album download format, the Web++ edition including dynamic album graphics. National Holographic, here represented by Ted Johnson, Jim Dennis (of the Music loft, Carrboro, NC), and Jason King, have released 12 albums on Ted's Studio 713 label. We look forward to hearing a lot more great music from them.

But wait! There's more! (Did I really just say that?) There's a "prize in every box"! If we shipped our downloads in boxes, there would be a prize in the box, but we ship our downloads in shiny new .zip files. In every downloaded album (in this release as well as the latest Johnson-Hendrix "Space Probe"), there is a hidden vault of unknown treasures! This alone is worth (click.. click..tap) at least the price of admission. So far no one has uncovered the secret!

OK, enough marketing tripe for the masses today. Click on the National Holographic link on the BitWorks Music home page. Click on Play All on the album and check it out!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Yes, I know it's Wednesday already, but I've been busy putting together our 15th album release! The stork should arrive by the end of the week bearing another gem from National Holographic.

I made it to some of Signalfest this weekend. I have the feeling I only got a small slice of the music and fun that was going on, but I did get to see Negativland at the Cradle Saturday night. Negativland's approach to art/music is using what I would call "found sound", though they use a number of sound generating devices, even their own voices! At times they have also been known to play what we brainwashed folks recognize as "instruments". They also do video, essays, whoopee cushions, and more.

According to Mark Hosler of Negativland, who gave a talk at the end of the BarCampSignal sessions Saturday, the Cradle show was the most "out there" of any of their performances, being largely unplanned. It was a damn good time, I'll say that much. One question I ask myself: "Self, what is it we like about all this noise?" The answer: "Because it takes us places." In a sense it's like an amusement park ride. It throws us off balance, disorients us, or rather reorients us into some ScaryHappyFunnyNegativUnpredictableland.

Negativland's work is really more than putting together sounds from commercials, cartoons, and elsewhere. They have become leading proponents of the concept of fair use in art, due mostly to the fact that they have been sued by so many people over the years. This itself is a fascinating story, and in fact they published the text of the lawsuit (annotated with various clippings, conversations, and commentary) brought against them by U2. You may have heard of that band. To get a real sense of their work you should check out their website. These guys have been around for 27 years, so there is no way I can really do them justice in a couple of paragraphs. I did have the good fortune to pick up their album/book/video/whoopee cushion entitled "No Business". Seriously, it comes with a whoopee cushion. It doesn't get any better than that! I also picked up their must have CD, "Escape From Noise".